Cold...Where it's Supposed to Be Cold

Alrighty.  Knock on wood the semi-major home repair episode is done for awhile here in the house.  When I posted last week I was still in limbo waiting for Furnace Repair, Part Deux.

And boy it got damn cold in here.  See the proof for yourself!  Between last Friday through the Tuesday before Thanksgiving the temperature inside dropped from 60 degrees down to 44.  [That's 15c to 6c - I need love and understanding from my peeps worldwide too!].  All the while waiting for a 2nd furnace part replacement - 2nd in just two weeks.  This time the fan motor had failed and of course the one I needed was not in stock.

To add to this load of goodness, we had a once-every-25-years cold snap here in the Seattle area.  Honestly, the combo of record cold weather and a broken furnace was starting to sounds like a bad dream or stereotype or something. But it was my reality.  Record cold?  We hit an official low of 14F (-10c).  For us that's downright dangerous - we aren't equipped to deal with cold like this around here at ALL.

And then it started snowing.  Beautiful, fluffy white snow.  I had to pinch myself to remember this was pre-Thanksgiving, not January or February - our more typical months for snow if we get any!  I'd been looking forward to getting out of the (cold) townhouse here and get into work, but the steep hills and my car (and my driving ability in snow) weren't a good mix.  Thankfully, I can work from home.

Funny things happen when your house gets damn cold.  It's rather surreal, for the power is on - I could still take hot showers, do laundry, watch TV, cook - I just didn't have any heat!  Far different from our big snowstorm/blackout of 2006 where there was no power period.  After a couple of days a strange, hibernation instinct welled up deep within me.  And I burrowed.  I burrowed deep in my bed with my wonderful polar fleece electric blanket, polar fleece PJ's, thick socks and a knit hat.  Probably looked like a homeless woman in my own house!  I knew the furnace fix was coming soon, and between the treacherous roads and getting a few things packed up to stay elsewhere was just too much hassle.  So I rode it out.  And I ate a lot of hot soup too. 

When the repairman showed up last Tuesday (the same one who came out a few days prior when the 2nd part failed) I'd forgotten I was wearing my colbat blue Snuggie - a Christmas gift from one of my brothers last year.  Ah, the polarizing Snuggie.  Don't knock 'em, people.  They WORK.  I opened my garage and the repairman laughed when he saw me - oh my God, you're wearing a Snuggie!  Yes, I was.  Get over it and fix my furnace.  Hilarious!

So, it's been an expensive end of the year, but I'm glad the fridge and furnace crap outs didn't happen when I had guests. The fridge died a day after my friend M stayed with me on a visit from Hawaii and the furnace Part Deux was just a couple days after my Silpada Jewelry launch party.  Phew!  I'd thought about doing a follow up open house that Saturday but I'm glad I didn't. Things happen (or don't happen) exactly as they're supposed to. No fridge = not enough cold.  No furnace = too much cold.  How much time we spend getting things just right for our own comfort!


Fighting off Hibernation: More Energy with LESS sleep?

How is it possible to feel so alive and full of ZING when you've only had about 8 hours sleep in two nights?

Prior to those two nights I'd been fighting off an annoyingly persistent urge to hibernate....doze, sleep, stay in.  Is this some leftover primal rhythm deep in my being that kicks into gear when winter approaches?  Is it just the grey, soggy weather we are known for here in the Seattle area?  Is it a low-grade flu, some version that's been running rampant around our office building?  There have been a few days recently where I've woken up and just known I'd need to work from home.  I'd shoot off a quick email to the crew that I'd be online at home, go back to bed and sleep hard until 10:30 or 11:00am - no joke.  Thankfully I didn't miss any conference calls!

Ugh.  I hate feeling like I'm operating on 70% of my normal energy level, but don't feel sick.  What's going on??

Nothing like changing up your routine to re-ignite your personal pilot light!  As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I'm now a Silpada Designs representative!  This is top notch sterling silver jewelry, and I am so excited and proud to now represent this brand after being a loyal, loving customer for about 3 years.  Woo hoo!

Bonnie Kelly and Teresa Walsh, the co-founders of Silpada, were here in town on a whirlwind Founders Tour, traveling all over the US and Canada, and I got to see them and hear them and many others speak at this event at the Red Lion Hotel in Seattle!  What divine timing to be a newly-minted rep AND have the Founders Tour event that same day!  I was truly the newbie that evening.

It was a beautiful night downtown - and not raining, bonus.  The first glimmers of holiday decor are sprouting up in the city.  High energy vibe everywhere.  I love it...and also remember how much I miss working downtown.  I felt so happy and loved at the Tour - being in a room of 200 people where I may know just one or two is no big deal to me.  I love going out and meeting people - I shed the childhood shyness ages ago.  These ladies were decked out in incredible jewelry and I had fun sporting my own personal stack of amazing bracelets!  Great conversation starters!  I heard the story of how Bonnie and Teresa met through their kids' school, became best of friends and launched this business sheerly through their love of jewelry.  I heard stories from other representatives about how they launched their own Silpada businesses and how transforming, life changing it is.

After the Tour a few of us from my core team walked down to Sip for a glass of wine and munchies.  Felt so fun being out downtown on a weeknight - this used to be so common for me when I was younger.  I didn't get home until 11:30pm and was so pumped up from the evening out I could hardly sleep.

But the energy only crescendoed (is that a word?) up further, as my own Launch Party was the next evening!  I had a few great friends over for a girls night in.  My sponsor, L, brought her amazing jewelry collection over to my house and showed me how she sets everything up for her own shows.  My dining room table turned into a jewelry showcase!  Add some drinks, munchies and great friends and you've got a fun, relaxing evening.  It was wonderful introducing friends of mine who had not yet met eachother before.  Childhood friend.  A friend I met through hockey.  And another I met through an online purse discussion group - one of a group I get together with a few times a year for lunch and shopping!  After the party, L stayed with me late into the evening to show me the ins and outs of how to process orders, manage customer lists, keep track of leads, run reports.  All the "backend" stuff behind the scenes is as top notch as this incredible jewelry!  My expectations were blown out of the water.  Here I was thinking I'd have to manage my business by designing my own spreadsheets and whatnot.  Nope:  all I have to do is log into Silpada's site with my rep number and BOOM.  Easy!  And the amount of training they have online or via conference calls - did I mention that?  Everything is at my fingertips - and free!

Keep in mind, this was Wednesday night.  And I have a standing 8am meeting Thursday mornings.  And I'm not a morning person at ALL.  Yet somehow I bounced out of bed the morning after my own party and came in eyes open and ready for a great day.

How could this be?  Why was I so full of energy?  Simple - I shook up my routine.  And I surrounded myself with incredible women - new faces at the Founders Tour with a common bond between us to grow our Silpada business. New friendships.  Big hugs. Support and caring from friends at my launch party, and the virtual support and well wishes from so many other incredible friends.  Wow!

I'm on my way with something new!  And I feel great!  Let's not joke around here - I'm a little nervous, but in a good way.  L has been absolutely wonderful helping me get started with her coaching and support.  Did I mention she's about ready to give birth to her 3rd child in a few weeks?  Heck, if she can run her own business, support her Silpada team while being a super busy Mom on top of it all I can do this too!

And then Friday morning rolled around.

I woke up ready to bounce out of bed and get to work.  But why was it so COLD?  My furnace normally kicks on around 6:30am to start warming up my townhouse before I get out of bed.  I put on my robe and headed downstairs to look at the thermostat.  60 degrees?  Fuck.  It's supposed to be 68 in the morning and then shut off while I'm away at work.  I tried to turn the fan switch on - a click but nothing.  Oh boy.

Remember the refrigerator drama back in September?  Ladies and gentlemen, we now have Furnace Drama.  I had a part replaced two weeks ago, and now the furnace craps out yet again.  What's the deal?  Well, thankfully the repair company came out that same afternoon to check it out.  [One of those "we'll be there between noon and 5:00 - and they actually showed up at 1!].  Now it's the fan motor that's died.  And of course it's a special order and won't be here till Monday.  And of course it's 3 times as costly as the first repair job.  UGH.

So...I wait.  And chill out - literally. And I try to dig deep and remember I'll get through this too.  I have hot water and electricity.  I have polar fleece and an electric blanket.  Yeah, it's freaking cold in here but I'm OK.  This didn't happen during my party Wednesday.  This is nowhere near as bad as the weeklong blackout we had during the big snowstorm of 2006.  And once again I remind myself that everything happens when it's supposed to.

But those hibernating instincts are back full force.  Guess I'll snuggle up with a jewelry catalogue...and smile.


Mass Customization

How wonderfully ironic that this is my 90th post - and I've got the 1990s on my mind!

Ahh, the 90s.  The first full decade for me as an adult.  In 1990 I was a year out of college and by the turn of the century I was a year into a company and job experience that would be probably the most transforming of my career to date.

Back in the 90s my life was far less complex and busy.  I wasn't tied to a cell phone or a laptop, and email was juuuuuust starting to creep into the mainstream world in the latter half of that decade.  I used to read hardcover books with vigor and held a newspaper in my hands on Sunday mornings, lingering over coffee.  I remember building up my non-academic book collection...perhaps I was slowly shedding the college textbooks from the late 80s that were starting to date themselves (and remind me of reading overload in those years) and replace them with other reading material - reading for pleasure, not grades.  I remember going to a used book sale with my post-college roommate and stocking up on books for summer reading, because the TV shows in the summer were all reruns.  She and I would sit in the living room and just read read read. Back then the most complex technologies I touched were things like the fax machine at work, the VCR at home (taping a couple of soap operas and watching them while unwinding at home after work was de riguere) and the phone answering machine.  Come to think of it, I didn't get a CD player until probably 1998ish - a little late to the game.

Nowadays a fax machine does nothing but frustrate the shit out of me whenever I have to use one (rare, thankfully), my VCR lies dormant and needs to get offloaded somewhere and my phone answering machine is built into my cordless phone handset.  Yes, I do still have a landline.  And nowadays, if I had to make a choice, I'd rather lose my wallet than my (cell) phone.  I have had my wallet stolen once, however, and it was a royal pain in the ass - but back in those days - yes, the mid 1990s - I didn't have a cell phone.

Wasn't the fax machine supposed to shorten our workday waybackwhen?  I remember hearing or reading that somewhere and I can't think about that theory without laughing.  Didn't it and other technology just make our lives busier?  How much time do I spend online nowadays whether at work or here at home?  And if internet connectivity is down we might as well fold up the tent and go home.  Seriously...it's like not having water or electricity.  When did we get so dependent on being so uber connected all the time?

So today is one of those downtime Saturdays.  I'm making a mental list of what I need to get done this weekend while remembering the past, busy workweek - topped off with hockey practice last night.  I get out of bed today and sore hamstrings remind me of all those drills we did and the short scrimmage we crammed in at the end.  God it felt good to skate last night.  It can be hard sometimes to get a 2nd or 3rd wind and get my butt out the door when all I want to do is plop on the couch and unwind.  But I never, EVER regret the late night games and kooky lifestyle of hockey that is now tightly woven into my being.  There's something special about arriving at a rink, gearbag and sticks in hand...especially this particular rink where our team will now be practicing on Friday nights.  This is the rink where it all started for me 7 years ago when I signed up for a weekly adult beginner hockey camp. I won't ever forget the nervous flutter in my stomach when I arrived for our first lesson with a bag of brand spanking new gear I barely knew how to put on.  Now, suiting up is kinetic memory. Even the funky smell of the rink is oddly comforting...like slipping on an old, broken-in shoe.  But maybe that's just me being weird.

And today I ventured into my self-proclaimed Room of Crap.  In this spare bedroom (which will someday be a true guestroom) stands my good ol' IKEA bookcase full of those books I mentioned earlier.  IKEA screams 1990s to me - my first attempt at "real" furniture.  Have I read all of these books?   Nope.  Right now a trunk for storing summer clothes, a few extra wine glasses and the bottom half of my faux Christmas tree lie in front of the bookcase on the carpet. I told you this was a room of Crap.

For some reason I reached for the book Clicking, by Faith Popcorn, and pulled it off the shelf.  Blew the dust off and turned to the copyright page.  1996.  Faith Popcorn is known as the Nostradamus of marketing - a futurist, finger on the pulse of what's happening next.  And "clicking," in her lexicon, means finding one's niche in work, lifestyle or relationships. [In her earlier book, The Popcorn Report, she boldly describes upcoming concepts now ubiquitous to us, like email and e-commerce, calling them "screenmail" and "infobuying" though neither had yet been invented.] Remember, in the early 1990s no one used the word "internet." We were still a few years before anyone was even talking about "the Information Super-Highway."  Sounds all a bit quaint now, doesn't it? No one uses that term anymore.

"Clicking" to me means the click of a mouse.  How many 'clicks' do you do in a typical workday?  In a day at home doing email, paying your bills online or maybe some early holiday shopping? What power we hold under our fingertips.

I remember another one of Faith Popcorn's terms - "mass customization."  She could not be more spot-on with predicting this trend either about 15 years ago.  What did I do when I bought a new laptop online from Dell?  I chose the setup that *I* wanted.  When I purchased my new cell phone a couple months ago what was the first thing I did?  I configured it to how *I* wanted it to look - my home screen display and layout, my phone contacts, my favorite websites and the applications I want to use.  Thousands of people have my same make and model of phone, but none of us will have it set up exactly the same way.  Same with my laptop.  Even in a prior work assignment, the configuration/customization of the technology we implemented for our clients was probably one of the most time-consuming and essential project workstreams.  How about your Facebook or Twitter pages?  Guaranteed they don't look anything like any of your friends' pages.  Your iPod or Zune playlists?  Yours and only yours.

This might be whatever ho-hum stuff to some, but stop and think back to what you were doing 15 or so years ago.  How did you find information?  How did you shop?  Hell, how did you meet people?  How did you communicate?

I wonder what the upcoming decade holds in store for us.  Whatever it is, I can't wait.


Life with a Major Injection of Silver

How many plates do I have spinning right now?  Work, hockey, fivenineteen...and oh yeah what about those other activities I'm trying to cram into my life like rediscovering knitting, learning Norwegian, getting ready for another 5K (ahem, need to sign up for one) and continuing my self-paced Arctic studies?  How's we doin' on all that?  And what about basic things like eating, sleeping, exercise, spending time with my family and friends?  Relaxing?  I LOVE having a lot of "plates" but sometimes I admit I get spun out, stressed and overwhelmed.  How the hell can I do it all?  DO I do it all?  And do it well?  Breathe, breathe...exellence, NOT perfection.  How am I so freaking busy even if I am single right now and don't have kids?  How busy are people with families?  Am I totally clueless on what BUSY really means?

Let's just say I'm feeling stressed out.  I'm so excited to be back at work again and to be a part of a huge technology launch, as opposed to other work assignments where the project is a transition or program shut down.  Always better being on the building up side of things, right?  I've been on lots of deployment and launch projects over the years but I gotta say this one is unlike any other.  Delays, delays, delays, rumorsrumorsrumors, and then WHAMMO:  we launch a few days prior to the last 'official' communicated launch date.  What the hell?  Lord knows the conversations and wrangling that went on at levels far beyond mine that resulted in this.  I learned of this rumored early launch in a driveby conversation in our hallway on Wednesday night, just before I was headed out to meet T for sushi.  Screechy record sound...we're going live TONIGHT or early the following morning?  I tossed and turned that night - hardly slept.  We're not ready.  It's impossible to be 100% ready for something as new as this but it still sucks trying to build the plane as you fly it.

But, no one does it alone.  We're all coming together, panicked but focused to cram in what we need to do and get the rest of the puzzle pieces all out on the table and put together.  And sometimes I take a mental break and I 'float' above the chaos and soak it all in.  It's so fascinating seeing how people operate under stress as opposed to our normal craziness.  We will look back on this someday and laugh.  But we're not quite there yet.  

Oh...what's another spinning plate?  Home projects and home maintenance.  This is where I feel vulnerable and, frankly, inept.  My furnace decided to freak out on Thursday night; I came home to a very stuffy house, and after opening some doors and windows to let in fresh air (even though it was a little chilly out), the furnace didn't kick on in the evening like it normally would.  Well, it did but was a couple degrees shy of where it's programmed to be and I couldn't override it beyond the current temperature.  Holy crap, is my furnace dying?

Thankfully I got a good referral to a repair company. I called them the next morning and I got an appointment the very same day (one of those "we'll be there between noon and 5pm.").  And thankfully I am able to work from home if I need to, but I felt like crap stepping out of the office after lunch with all our launch chaos flying around.  But I still got my work done, the repair guy was late but very nice and thorough.  $200 later, I now have a clean furnace and a new capacitor (I think that's what it's called).  It's a part in the furnace that was starting to fail.

What's the "silver injection" in the post title?  Silpada jewelry!  Yes, I'm going to become a consultant and have my official launch party later this month!  Heck, why not add another plate to the mix.  Let's cut to the chase:  I'm trying to rebuild the savings I dipped into while I was unemployed a good portion of last year and half of this one.  And it's not happening fast enough.  Last month was a great example - about $2500 in additional expenses all at once.  Cell phone died, fridge died and my hockey league fees were due.  Thank goodness I can pay cash for these things with no problem.  I need a phone, I need a fridge and I gotta skate.

My time is valuable.  I don't consider myself a 'sales-y' type person at all, but I have been a huge fan of Silpada for years and adore their jewelry.  Why not tap further into my accessories junkie-ness?? The jewelry is sterling silver and not cheap, but the styles are so unique and 'feel' great.  Good heft - not chintzy.  The pieces I've purchased (mostly bracelets) go with just about any of my clothing and I always get compliments on them.  If I can wear it with confidence I can talk about it and sell it!  Between throwing parties at my house, other friends who want to host, having catalogue parties, plus the support of the Silpada team I'm joining, I'm confident I can make this work and once again challenge myself to keep expanding my horizons and try new things. Although, I'm a little nervous.

Come to think of it, I felt these same butterflies in my stomach when I first took up hockey.  And look at this - 7 years later I'm still skating.